A federal judge in Manhattan dismissed three sexual abuse lawsuits brought against former Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash on Monday, saying the men had exceeded a six-year statute of limitations in filing their complaints.
Judge John Koeltl threw out the suits brought by Cecil Singleton, Kevin Kiadii and a third, unnamed accuser. Clash, 52, resigned in November after 28 years portraying the beloved character on “Sesame Street,” amid allegations he'd engaged in sexual relationships with underage boys.
"The complaints in these cases were filed more than six years after the defendant's conduct with each plaintiff ended," Koeltl wrote in his decision.
The judge didn’t accept the plaintiffs’ claim that they weren’t aware of the “adverse psychological and emotional effects” of their encounters with Clash until last year.
“While the plaintiffs may not have recognized the extent of their injuries, they were aware of the defendant's conduct towards them and could have brought claims,” he wrote.The dismissal of the suits is the latest wrinkle in an ongoing saga that began last June, when Singleton contacted Sesame Workshop, claiming that Clash had pursued a sexual relationship with him when he was just 16.
The company conducted a “thorough investigation” into the matter and found his claims regarding underage sexual contact to be “unsubstantiated,” but placed Clash on leave from the show.
A day after Singleton’s allegations first came to light in November, he recanted, saying his sexual relationship with Clash only began after he’d turned 18, only to claim the following day he was pressured into retracting the charges.
In June, Clash won three Daytime Emmys for his work on "Sesame Street."